Gravity, Google Wave, and SAP

Scott Francis
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A pretty compelling demonstration of Google’s collaborative features in this article about “Gravity”, which is essentially a mashup of the ARIS modeler and Google’s Wave. Its a great demonstration.  The biggest surprise, I think, was that this was something built by SAP- not exactly known for pioneering things like this.  There was a lot of buzz over twitter and blogs about how cool this is and how impressive it is – and I agree the demonstration is impressive – but maybe not for the reasons people think.  It isn’t, for example, an impressive bit of software engineering.  Mashups are, technically, relatively easy to execute compared to many other software applications – which is why there are so many mashups with Google Maps, for example.   I imagine Google has similar designs for Wave – and this is actually what I find impressive…but more on that in a minute. Right at this moment, Google Wave integration won’t help much – its not even in public Beta yet, so it isn’t something most companies or users could take advantage of. If I’m not mistaken, what we’re seeing in this demo is that some folks at SAP have added collaborative features to their modeler (ARIS), by mashing with Google Wave.  That’s a great idea, and we can see how simple/straightforward it looks to be.  I can imagine other tools – Blueprint, Signavio, Appian Anywhere, Blueworks – can easily replicate this from a technical perspective.  There are some issues – like security- that these tools would have to consider if Google was going to be the means for collaboration – but at least one of these tools already has collaboration features at least as good as those shown in this demonstration (live chat, invitations, mutual simultaneous editing) – just not using Google Wave to do it. What impressed me was Google Wave.  If one of the ideas behind Google Wave is to make it easy to add collaboration to enterprise applications – that could really enhance the quality of work going on in many collaborative business applications and processes – and it strikes at the heart of what Microsoft Sharepoint does for organizations, without the infrastructure requirements and “administrative” requirements.  And whereas Sharepoint is difficult to integrate into your business applications, Google Wave has an opportunity to lower the barriers and steal a march.  If anything, watching this demonstration made me hope our beta for Google Wave arrives sooner than later-  can’t wait to try it. UPDATE 10/4/2009: Well I know I’ve been submitted for “consideration” for getting a Wave account, but I haven’t received an email yet from the Wave team inviting me to join.  There are some interesting early comments from people who have gotten access, however.  In particular Oscar Berg had an interesting and thoughtful take on Google Wave. Update 10/6/2009: I just saw this article and youtube video. The article’s premise is that SalesForce is here demonstrating the value of Google Wave.  But it also proves the limitations… Good read.. Update 10/13/2009: A few more websites/ pages are up with useful and interesting Google Wave info.  Although, I have to admit, some of it sounds pretty funny like, “11 tools for Google Wave you’ve never heard of”  – well, that would be about any 11 tools for most people, wouldn’t it? Google Wave 101 – this is a list of shortcuts, etiquette.  Its pretty basic, and a bit premature for my taste. ActionBase Blog (have to add that to my reader) had a good post about how the BPM community has largely ignored the impact Wave could have on end-users… however, I’d point them to this post for evidence to the contrary… as well as mentioning the needed enterprise features to make this reality for large enterprises. ActionBase takes a different approach to process,  which I think is highly complementary to the traditional structured process approach.  I’d love to see them paired up with other BPMS offerings to really complete the picture. Tips and Tricks from Techie-buzz.com. Update 11/8/2009: More thoughts from ActionBase about Google Wave; primarily with regard to Wave potentially being a disruptive BPMS-like force in the BPM market.  I’ll post some more thoughts on that possibility this week, but I don’t see it as likely to disrupt established BPM vendors so much as the unstructured or user-driven vendors, as well as to further fragment the market currently served by Excel, Sharepoint, and Notes. Update 11/30/2009:  The creator of Gmail chimes in with his view on Google Wave – and his best point is that it just isn’t ubiquitous like email, and therefore is unlikely to displace it.  He also has some good suggestions about preserving linearity or compartmentalizing some of the threads inside a wave.  Read on right here. Update 1/24/2010: Anatoly comments on Google Wave, concluding that it is useful, and listing pros and cons. The cons he points out are interesting:
  • No email/RSS notification of wave changes.
  • No permanent address for the wave
  • No numbered lists
  • The requirement to register for google wave to participate. This last one is a big barrier to adoption because it means that you can’t arbitrarily include people in your waves. If you can’t include them, then you’re not likely to use Google Wave to collaborate with them…
Please feel free to add additional google wave links in the comment section… I’ll try to keep a compilation without working too hard at it.
  • You are right, when it comes to collaboration and communication, GoogleWave will sure have an edge – what will perhaps influence most will be its ease of use.

    I liked the Gravity demo too, but then while these features are really great, particularly in a demo, I am a bit skeptical about how fully organizations will be able to expoit benefits by using them -you will have people, personalities, differences, culture, admin policies, security and other factors also start influencing. It will surely foster human collaborative work but how close to full potential will it be exploited is a question on my mind.

    The thing about Mashups and use of Social Media is that the applications are limited only by your ability to be creative. I expect to see a lot more announcements/demos high on the ‘wow’ value.

  • You are right, when it comes to collaboration and communication, GoogleWave will sure have an edge – what will perhaps influence most will be its ease of use.

    I liked the Gravity demo too, but then while these features are really great, particularly in a demo, I am a bit skeptical about how fully organizations will be able to expoit benefits by using them -you will have people, personalities, differences, culture, admin policies, security and other factors also start influencing. It will surely foster human collaborative work but how close to full potential will it be exploited is a question on my mind.

    The thing about Mashups and use of Social Media is that the applications are limited only by your ability to be creative. I expect to see a lot more announcements/demos high on the ‘wow’ value.

  • You’re right about reality being a lot harder – google wave is unlikely to be approved by most corp infrastructures in the short-medium term. maybe even in the longterm. smaller companies or companies that “grew up” on google apps may be a diff’t story – but how long before they are big enough to be buying SAP? :)

  • You’re right about reality being a lot harder – google wave is unlikely to be approved by most corp infrastructures in the short-medium term. maybe even in the longterm. smaller companies or companies that “grew up” on google apps may be a diff’t story – but how long before they are big enough to be buying SAP? :)

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  • Another take on this topic:
    http://mashable.com/2009/12/18/google-wave-business/
    Which argues that wave is all about Google getting into the business world… I’m not so sure that that is precisely the point but it may be the outcome …

  • Another take on this topic:
    http://mashable.com/2009/12/18/google-wave-business/
    Which argues that wave is all about Google getting into the business world… I’m not so sure that that is precisely the point but it may be the outcome …

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